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Four men learn the hazards of winter fishing

Quick thinking and years of experience by two charter captains saved the lives of four fishermen angling in near-freezing waters east of Picton, Ontario.

Scott Walcott and Sheldon Hatch, charter captains on separate vessels that morning, were on trips with several clients at about 11:45 a.m. November 23rd when Walcott spotted trouble about 500 meters off Adolphustown near Loynes Island.

“I looked up and saw what looked like the bow of a boat in the water and a bunch of debris,” said Walcott. “There was a planer board and a cooler and a piece of pizza floating.”

As he pulled his boat closer, he saw four men, ages 22 to 53, in flotation suits floating on their backs around a sinking 18-foot fishing boat.

“Four men in the water,” he radioed to Hatch who was in a boat a few hundred meters behind him.

The two charter captains worked together to pull the men in as they floated helplessly on the water. “They were so out of it they couldn’t even swim to grab the buoy,” said Hatch. “Literally, we had to throw it within an inch of them or they wouldn’t get it.”

The men had been in the water for three to five minutes before the captains showed up, but much longer than that could have spelled disaster. Once off the water, the men were taken to Prince Edward Memorial Hospital in Picton, treated and released.